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ECOWAS and the free movement of goods, persons and establishment

The article examines the challenges facing the non-implementation of the ‘ECOWAS’ Protocol on the Free Movement of goods, services, persons and capital. In its finding, several problems including the lack of Political commitments, administrative restrictions, civil conflicts, wars and terrorism are major obstacles to the implementation of the Protocol on free movement of goods, services, persons and capital in West Africa. Thus the Paper recommends that ECOWAS’ leaders should seriously address those obstacles in the implementation of the Protocol.

Introduction
Indeed, the 15 nation ECOWAS came into force on 28th May 1975, when the Treaty was signed in Lagos, Nigeria, by a group of countries comprising Dahomey (now Benin), The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra-Leone, Togo, and Burkina Faso (former Upper Volta). Cape Verde acceded to ECOWAS in 1977. Hence, establishing a market of 280 million consumers and a geographical area of 6.2 million square kilometres. However, the Treaty from inception has been faced with a series of challenges, including security, underdevelopment and the implementation of the Protocol on Free Movement of Goods, Persons and the Right to Establishment in the member States. The ECOWAS Constitution is the Lagos Treaty of May, 1975 and its objectives include: Economic stability among the member States, improve the standard of living of their people, customs union, freedom of movement of persons, capital, services, agriculture, transportation, telecommunication, energy and development, industrial master plan.

Several reasons will push states to create/form economic integration among them. Indeed, reasons like economic weakness, dependence status, economies of scale and scope, political influence, security and stability may lead to it. For instance, in the West African Sub-region the principal reasons that pushed for economic integration include to encourage intra West African trade which was less than 4%, to strengthen their weak economies, improve the living standard of their people and be independent of extra African powers in the realpolitik game as a consequence of the Cold War.[1] Since the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Establishment was put in place in 1979.

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